Political Idiocy in the Twitterverse

We MassPoliticalProfs tweet our blog posts on Twitter and look to the site for political goings-on.  It’s often productive, we have some good exchanges with smart and passionate political partisans, we learn things from journalists, and it’s fun. Sometimes though the sheer idiocy displayed on Twitter is mind-boggling; Wednesday was one of those days.

As background read Chris Cassidy’s Wednesday Boston Herald piece Tamerlan Tsarnaev Got Mass Welfare Benefits. Here’s the lead: “Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism, the Herald has learned.” In its understated manner the Herald ran this picture and headline:








This set off some in the Twitterverse and here are the results.

Jim Branch edit




Dee edit



Chris Coon edit



As you can see each of the tweeters has taken the Herald story to mean that transitional assistance system somehow enhanced the evil of the monstrous Tsarnaev brothers. Massachusetts, and specifically Massachusetts Democrats, provided the sustenance for them and are complicit in the Boston Marathon bombing and the murder of Officer Sean Collier. The Herald itself does not make that argument but it just flows naturally for these tweeters.

There isn’t information that the Tsarnaev family did not legally qualify for benefits at the time they received them and of course there is no evidence, because there could be none, that the Department of Transitional Assistance ignored the crystal ball that plainly showed the menace of the brothers.

Immigrant + Massachusetts DTA recipient = terrorist. Who could miss the logic?

I suppose the larger point is that big government is assaulting our freedoms and the Tsarnaev brothers are one natural result. Point well taken. If not for potable water, clean air, food and drug inspections, the place might well have been uninhabitable for them.

I’m not looking for a doctoral seminar on social welfare or terrorism on Twitter but stupidity uncontaminated by thought is far too common.

By the way I have no problem with the Herald‘s reporting on this (the headline is another matter). The welfare angle is one small and inconsequential part of the profile of the brothers. There was a lot of other important information in the story.

Meanwhile an online war of words on Redmassgroup between followers of Michael Sullivan and Gabriel Gomez has spilled over onto Twitter. I apologize to a morning Twitterer for not keeping identifying information so I could properly credit him or her. But I do appreciate my attention being drawn to this gem:

Too Many Gomezs edit

That’s what is wrong with the country — too many Gomezs? I don’t know if Stow Patriot has any Irish ancestry but at one time Massachusetts patriots thought the problem was too may Sullivans. How things change.

About Maurice T. Cunningham

Maurice T. Cunningham is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He teaches courses in American government including Massachusetts Politics, The American Presidency, Catholics in Political Life, The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln, American Political Thought, and Public Policy. His book Maximization, Whatever the Cost: Race, Redistricting and the Department of Justice examines the role of the DOJ in requiring states to maximize minority voting districts in the Nineties. He has published articles dealing with the role of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts politics and on party politics in the state. His research interests focus upon the changing political culture of Massachusetts.
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